Black ice

Well wasn’t that interesting young Bill? I was out late last night, around midnight, on my way home from a job. No big deal, just routine. When I got a rude reminder about Winter driving.

There was a thaw yesterday, so I left the four wheel drive at home and used our thrifty little commuter car instead. Big, big mistake. As I fired up the engine, the internal thermometer read five Celsius. So being the trusting soul I am, took it as read that there would be no road icing and didn’t think to go extra easy. Clear roads. Some sanding had been done, but I was expecting fog and damp that evening. Not ice. Moron.

Two hefty broadslides later…… Yes, wasn’t that interesting? Almost too quick for that heart in mouth sensation to kick in. Also comforting that I haven’t forgotten how to control a skidding vehicle.

The first heart in mouth moment was on a clear looking ninety degree right hand bend. Yes, we do have bends in Canada. Knew things weren’t right when the back end kicked out unexpectedly to the left. Foot off throttle, and bugger, it’s an automatic so the down through the box engine braking trick wasn’t going to work. Telegraph pole looming on road edge to right, dab on brake to increase the skid and slip round the bend sideways, fading left and looking for a safe runoff point. Corner telegraph pole had slightly menacing extra solid look as it flashed past less than half a metre away. Steer out, straighten up as traction returns and slide over to the correct side of the road. Phew. That got the old adrenalin pumping.

The second rude shock was on another clear looking bend down towards the Parkway. Back end began to break just before the apex, and my car took the rest of the hundred metre curve a good forty degrees to the direction of travel, me countersteering frantically to compensate. Managed to control it all the way through, but oh my.

Slip sliding awayThought I’d given up these kind of antics years ago. The last time I didn’t have this much fun driving was back in the nineties, hitting an ungritted patch of black ice in my old grey Ford Escort. Before that, driving a Reliant Robin in six to eight inches of snow back in the mid eighties. Although, thinking about it, our old Ford Windstar did have an alarming tendency to wag its tail like an over enthusiastic Labrador in inclement conditions, and our battered old 4×4 was known to like travelling slightly sideways on packed ice.

The rest of the way home I was ultra cautious, and my midnight sashay down unsanded rural Canadian roads passed off without further incident. Once home, I raided my bottle of Jura single malt before falling asleep in a chair. That’s enough excitement for one day.

Hell, freezing over

Satan skating to workLocally it’s been nothing like the temperatures experienced in either Hell, Michigan or even Hell, Norway, but still cold enough to induce extra work for local metalworkers as local brass monkeys queue up for emergency repairs. Locally we’re currently entering our second week of sub zero temperatures. Not unheard of, but cold enough. Snow from the small covering we had over a week ago was still hanging around in our front yard Sunday morning.

Take the day before yesterday, 7th February 2014; Victoria BC. Never mind the Great Lakes (Ice cover at the time of writing 77.4%), Esquimalt lagoon, Colwood, Victoria was observed to be almost ninety percent frozen over. Hey but this is Canada, Eh? Land of the Yukon bar and near permanent snow cover? Dude, of course it freezes. Not so. While the Midwest provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba alternately bake and shiver on a regular basis, freezing temperatures here in South Western coastal British Columbia rarely drop so low for so long. Yet if, as many are so keen to tell us, the planet is warming uncontrollably because of humanity’s errant wastefulness; where the hell are all these gosh-darned icicles coming from? They’re everywhere. Along Highway One to Victoria, every single bit of rock face sported an impressive display of metre plus long natural ice sculpture. In the six years I’ve lived here, I’ve never seen so many.

This is nothing new. Just over a hundred years ago, the channel between Newcastle Island and Nanaimo harbour was ice bound on a semi regular basis, thick enough for local skaters to use. In the photo archives of the local museum, there are several black and white photographs of this occurrence. Yeah, but this is Winter, right? The coldest months of which are January and February, proves nothing. Which is true, and yet again, so terribly misleading. Taken in isolation, of course such observations are meaningless. Yet when compared with historical reports from the late 19th Century, when the world was exiting the Little Ice Age, there seem to be a number of correlations. Low Hurricane count. Tropical Storm force events occurring at less equatorial latitudes, suggesting a shift in temperature gradients. Which of course is all anecdotal, drawn as it is from newspaper and other reports of past times. Although ‘Warming’ seems to be noticeably absent. At least until Spring moseys on around. Or July, as last year.

Hey, it’s just weather. All storms and fury, signifying nothing. At least nothing worth getting taxed over.

Smoking in cars, a modest proposal

Was meandering around the Tellytubbygraph website, and came across this little gem by Boris Johnson, a UK Tory politician who says that he is a Libertarian (Cough, cough, cough, snigger). In it, he argues, that smoking should not be allowed in any vehicle because of the damage second hand smoke is alleged to do to the delicate bodies of children. Whether the vehicle will be used for their carriage or not. Having read what he had to say, I was moved to key in the following comment:

Boris. Why not a law to keep children out of cars instead? Let the smokers have some sanctuary for pity’s sake, the poor dears being addicts, and addiction, as we are told, is a sickness not a crime. Besides, keeping children out of motor vehicles will protect them from poisonous exhaust fumes leaking in through every vent, seal, and window. Even the most eco-friendly vehicle is not air tight.

The regular reader of this blog will note tongue being inserted firmly into cheek at this juncture. Although I am moved to propose that any vehicle marketed as ‘eco-friendly’ should be made completely air tight to protect the occupants from the errant exhaust fumes of all the other vehicles on the road. This is only right and fair. Why should the eco-pious be forced to breathe the polluted soup of the worlds highways and byways? They should have their own space and atmosphere. And windows that won’t open. Sealed vents that will not share the pollution from other road users like in inferior vehicles, such as those only smokers will be allowed to drive. For the hand wavers own protection of course, which will spare them the merest whiff of the dreaded tobacco smoke, no matter its source.

But wait; what of the benefits to road safety? No children allowed in motor vehicles would mean a considerable improvement in quality of the parents lives as follows;

Such legislation would have the benefit of lowering the blood pressure of parents, sparing them from the back seat quarrels, unfortunate little gastric accidents, demands to be driven to unhealthy fast food outlets, and querulous whining and driver distracting litanies of “Are we there yet?” Thus improving road safety at a stroke and saving the NHS billions.

Boris, me old china, this is genius! By banning children from all vehicles, several modern major social scourges are solved at the stroke of a pen. By forcing children out of cars, they must take more exercise and therefore become less obese. Lowering parents blood pressure means fewer circulatory disorders in later life. Fewer distracted parents on the roads mean a reduced accident rate and a further lowering of the UK’s national health care budget and insurance premiums. Children would be insulated from the evils, whatever they might be, of second hand smoke and grow up healthier. Furthermore, the tobacco smoke would be contained inside a controlled environment, to wit the smokers car or house, thus not affecting anyone else. Fantastic! Win-win. Time for tea and a knighthood methinks.

Fortunately, or rather un, depending on your viewpoint; the only other problem such legislation would leave behind would be what to do with the bodies of all the self righteous planet savers, suffocated in their air tight mobile eco-prisons. Still, I’m sure it’s a sacrifice, considering how doomed we are through over population as we’re continually informed by eco-worriers, a salutary price a lot of the remaining population wouldn’t mind them making. Just think of the emissions they’d be saving.

I don’t normally go in for gloating, but…..

In the UK, über green trougher and griller of climate sceptics MP Tim Yeo has just got it in the neck from his constituency association, prompting the following little bowdlerisation of Alice Coopers ‘Elected’.

Once a prime cut of meat, Cameron’s choice,
Yeo’s been deselected,
Top golfing dandy with a ‘green’ Rolls Royce,
He’s just been deselected,
Party wants a saviour, don’t need a flake,
He’s just been deselected,
No-one’s gonna rock to the rules that he makes,
He’s just been deselected, corrected, deselected.

Grilling climate sceptics who won’t think like they’re told,
He’s just been deselected,
Said it was getting warmer, ignored all the cold,
Yeo’s been deselected, rejected, deselected,
Hallelujah, he’s been deselected,
By the majority of his local association!

Yeo’s lost this one, because outside there’s storms,
He’s just been deselected,
Tear down all those windmills, everyone stay warm,
He’s just been deselected, deselected,
He’s just been deselected, disrespected, call collected,
He’s just been deselected.

“And if he is deselected
He’ll have only his green directorships for company
Toppling windmills, soaked solar panels
He knows we have floods,
They got flooding right there in Somerset
They have flooding on the North, South, East and West,
Yorkshire, London, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire,
Devon and Cornwall,
Everybody has floods,
And personally, he don’t care.”

Well, it put a smile on my face.

Really scary stuff

We’re looking at our UK based savings following the revelations about Eurozone banks being due to take a Cyprus style ‘Savings Haircut’ on depositor accounts which don’t seem to be idle gossip. HSBC have clamped down on big bank transfers for fear of a ‘run’ on their accounts. Royal Bank of Scotland is 8 billion in the hole. That’s sterling, not dollars by the way. Several Russian banks are in the Ca-ca and preventing depositor withdrawals. Fortunately we use none of these, but there’s a suspicion that despite bail outs, most of the banking sector is in deep, deep trouble. Guess who’s going to end up paying? You’ll need a mirror to find out.. Take your time.

The current UK ‘recovery’ is running on the back of yet another housing led bubble-boom. Which brings me to ask; does nobody learn from History, even recent History, any more? There was the housing boom and bust of the early 1990′s, 2007, and now this time. It truly fits the definition of insanity, making the same old mistakes in the same old ways and expecting different results. Pass the straitjacket matron.

All this bank piracy makes me want to buy a boat and stock up on dry goods before taking an extended trip around the world. Although we’d avoid the Philippines, Suez and East and West Africa all the way south to the Seychelles. Apparently the Pirates down there are using ‘Mother Ships’ to run small groups of raiding craft. None of ‘em look like Johnny Depp either.But they look nothing like real pirates Or the recent revelations that the Mexican Government is seizing tourist vessels over seventy buck permits.

From piracy on your hard earned savings to piracy on the high seas and even in tourist marinas, it doesn’t leave you with many options, does it?

Welcome back Anna

Anna Raccoon is back on the blogroll after being reported missing in inaction due to illness.

Absolutely delighted to see Anna back up and stumbling. Only sorry she trashed her blog layout which now needs rebuilding. I’m sure the magical Interweb wayback machine might be of some assistance here.

Big H/T to Leg Iron at Underdogs bite upwards

Zombie apocalypse

There’s been a meme out there on the jolly old Interweb for some time about the coming Zombie apocalypse. Very soon. In fact that’s probably them at the front door right now, coming to eat what little brains you have. Might be the Avon lady, Jehovah’s witnesses, or the Postman with a special delivery. On the other hand it could be (Dee-DAH-DAAAH!) Zombies. OMG! Keep a double barrelled shotgun loaded with cut shells inside the front door, just on the off chance someone pops by and wants to eat your brains. I actually once met someone who did just this – a hasty retreat was rapidly beaten.
Who ordered the double meat special?
This view of life is reflected in popular movies like World War Z, 28 Days, Sean of the Dead, Warm Bodies etc. As well as a lot of extremely bad teen slasher movies, in which category I include all Zombie, Vampire, Werewolf and other living dead movies, apart from Sean of the Dead, whose saving grace is that it is very funny indeed.

The truth of the matter is that real live Zombies are all around us. The walking dead. The genuine article. Alive, yet not so. People who move, eat, shit and sleep, but whose last attempt at cogent thought fell flat on its face last week before they got out of bed. Some are only part time Zombies, others have it as a full time vocation. When you get used to looking, you’ll be able to spot them just by their shambling, purposeless gait, the mildly fearful vacant look behind the eyes, and dare one say it, their sheer lack of animus. The barely alive, unthinking mass, who exist not by acts of volition but mere instinct. The mob. Yup. Them. The dozy items who don’t look where they are going or think about what they’re doing. Vancouver Island seems to have a plague of them, and they all drive. Their lack of positional awareness is scarier still. You know what? The really scary thing is Zombies are everywhere and look, and often talk, like normal people. Amazing how many Eurozone Politicians suffer from this oddly vacant look. Those that haven’t a near permanent expression of single minded avariciousness, that is.

They’re people whose critical thinking is so non-existent that they believe everything they’re force fed by the lamestream media. They never question their belief systems, just to check. They never suffer from existential doubt or WTF! moments. The deeper questions of life never bother them, such as “Who am I?”, “What is my purpose in life?”, or “Why do I have to take pills that make my snot luminous green?”, or why when it’s supposed to be a record hot year, they’re still having to beat the ice off their undies on the clothes line. All the time repeating the mantra “I hate climate change deniers, they’re dooming the world forever.” While wondering what is causing all the strange bangs and other cold related phenomena. Not to mention that the Southern Hemisphere Winters have been suffering an increased incidence of increased cold events over the past few years.

There is another type of Zombie of course, but a self aware type who don’t go around moaning “Brains, brains.”, they’re the Bill Sticker variant, who range about the earth, moaning; “Brains! Where the fuck is anyone else with any Brains?” Forever seeking sanity in a world where there is apparently little to be found, but that’s my problem.

The dog returns to his vomit

Well, like a Zombie from the nethermost pits of hell, and for better or worse, Bill Sticker is making another comeback. Why? Oh I don’t know. I suppose there are things that need saying. Piss that needs taking.

Piss that needs taking? I hear my single weekly reader ask. Well actually yes. Out of the whole smoke and mirrors media raft of obfuscations. Oh, I’m not sure if what I know is the absolute Truth with a capital T, I’ll leave that to the readers of Fortean Times and David Icke. I’ll base what I think I know on real life observation. Things as they are, not what some well funded think tanks full of bien pensants, or tinfoil hat wearing eccentric would have everyone believe. In what it is hoped will be an amusing fashion.

The current gift that keeps on giving is one of those expeditions to ‘prove’ there really is such a thing as man made global warming. At the height of the Southern Hemisphere’s Summer, a boatload of ‘climate activists’ went on a trip – and got stuck in the ice. Then they were rescued. At great cost by helicopter and icebreaker – and the rescue icebreaker got stuck in the ice. Not just an ordinary ship, but a massive engined, thick plated behemoth of an Antarctic icebreaker, the Xue Long. When an Australian ice rated vessel couldn’t get within ten nautical miles. Through the ice.

Ice, which according to the pro man made climate change faction, shouldn’t be there. Because according to them, the world is going to overheat and we’ll all drown, or fry, or our putative grandchildren will die horribly in some indeterminate manner, and it’ll all somehow be our fault. Not theirs of course, with their globe trotting proselytising and trips to Antarctica and suchlike. No, no, no. They are merely the messengers and therefore guiltless. Yeah, right.

Of course these activists could have not got stuck in the Antarctic ice, which they would have the great unwashed believe was no longer there. Word is, when the Russian Skipper of their vessel told them to get back on board, quickly please, as the ice was getting thicker than a blue whale club sandwich with a side order of cocktail penguin, putting even the ships ice strengthened hull at risk, what happened? Like a bunch of sulky schoolchildren, these activists dragged their feet, and by the time they were all back on board whining louder than the ships diesels about the bunks and the lack of certain beverages, guess what? Icebound and needing rescue. Nor is it the first time.

No doubt the poor bloody Russian Skipper of the Akademik Shokalskiy will be hung out to dry for this incident. Incompetents always try to shift blame onto the front line guys who can’t fight back. Like First World War generals whose idea of sensible tactics was human wave assaults into a rising sun against entrenched machine guns, the blame is often shifted onto the shortcomings of the poor bloody infantry, not the way they are told how to do a job. As always, sympathies are extended to the poor working stiffs (Captain and crew) who are shafted by arrogant people who claim some delusional moral and intellectual high ground. Also to the real scientists on Antarctic bases whose supplies are stuck in the ice along with the activists. Ah, no one mentions them do they? The reason the rescuing icebreakers are actually out there in the first place? Resupply of Antarctic bases? Watching their budgets being eaten up to rescue a bunch of activist tourists? Word is that this rescue has blown the contingency budget of Australia’s Antarctic program and disrupted its scientific work. Also the Chinese, and a special two week project the French had time and funds earmarked for. All gone. Yves Frenot, director of the French Polar Institute has publicly expressed his misgivings.

In his classic essay ‘The madness of crowds’ Charles MacKay posited that “Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.” This whole man made climate change meme appears to be one of the mania’s of which MacKay wrote so eloquently. No matter the failure of warming predictions, the true believers, well funded as they are, continue in their madness. Perhaps they realise that it is only a matter of time before the jig is up, and they are fighting a desperate rearguard action to the final bunker, leaving the scientific method a wasteland behind them. They will have spent all the money, and then some, which could have been used for more worthy projects.

Why the activists didn’t just book a berth on one of the National Geographic, or other cruise ships that regularly ply Antarctic waters, some even doing really cool stuff like this. They could have left the real science to the guys at the Antarctic research stations, and enjoyed the journey in more comfort.

Real science is suffering and will continue to do so. Because despite mounting observational evidence to the contrary, and precious little for, the global climate is not warming in line with the activist-alarmist predictions. Unfortunately this salient raft of evidence seems not to have percolated into the media bubble realities surrounding many ‘top level’ Western Politicians. Probably because much of the ‘professional’ political class don’t have the training or intellect necessary to make necessary distinctions. Especially, but not exclusively, on the left of centre. To be even handed, I’d also like to point out the Bible thumping extreme right being just as locked into their raft of pet delusions. Maybe the majority of politicians don’t want to be the first to break ranks. Like Canada, China, India and Australia.

Alternatively, one can only assume that there is some form of brain rotting infection stalking the European and US corridors of power. Maybe a team of health inspectors should give their kitchens and suppliers a good going over. Although degenerative conditions like new variant CJD and associated prion induced disorders are deuced hard to diagnose unless in their terminal phase. In which case, the problem will be largely self solving. At present the diagnosis to demise time is twelve months or less. 100% fatality.

In the meantime, readers are advised (as usual) to adopt Robin Williams’ rape defence advice. Point and laugh.

How stuff works, a song

Oh Grandpa’s a wealthy land owner
And Uncle makes windmills that spin
My Aunty she sells Carbon Credits
My God, how the money rolls in!

(Chorus:) Rolls in, rolls in, my God, how the money rolls in, rolls in!
Rolls in, rolls in, my God, how the money rolls in!

Oh Daddy’s a Parliamentarian
Raising tax on the singlemost whim
Every night he’s out schmoozing accountants
My God, how the money rolls in!

(Chorus:) Rolls in, rolls in, my God, how the money rolls in, rolls in!
Rolls in, rolls in, my God, how the money rolls in!

Oh Brother he works out in Brussels
Saving gorgeous Hungarians from sin
He’ll save you a blonde for ten Euros
My God, how the money rolls in!

(Chorus:) Rolls in, rolls in, my God, how the money rolls in, rolls in!
Rolls in, rolls in, my God, how the money rolls in!

My Mother’s a Harley Street Doctor
Gives pills to the famed with a Gin.
She owns a renowned rehab clinic.
My God, how the money rolls in!

(Chorus:) Rolls in, rolls in, my God, how the money rolls in, rolls in!
Rolls in, rolls in, my God, how the money rolls in!

*Sung to the tune of “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean”

I am Evil

I am a very bad person and will probably boil in Hell for all eternity if there is such a place. Why? Probably because I’m an irreverent soul, and although I’ve rarely done anything naughty in my life; I’ve tried to be honest, never gone out looking to do people who don’t deserve it any harm. Mine will always be the necessary helping hand for those that will take it, not the boot in the face.

My major weak spot, and the one that will consign me to the lower reaches of the Pit is my disdain of God botherers, in all their guises. Even if Cranmer is still on my dwindling blogroll. I respect the man. He at least has integrity. Even if one disagrees with him.

This mornings episode came when there was a respectful soft knocking from the direction of the front door. At first I thought it was the wind. The dog was quiet, and he normally goes completely AWOL when there’s someone at the door. He even barks hyperactive welcome at me. So I ignored the noise and carried on working. There was the sound again. Dog was silent. This is a dog you understand, who has lungs of iron and no noise limitation. He’s a lovely animal, but his boundless enthusiasm can get a little hard to bear sometimes.

Got up and wandered into the kitchen to reload on coffee, only to see a sombre suited couple walking steadily away down the drive. Both looked around sixtyish, and the man was carrying a briefcase. Now I know we have no debt issues, all our bills get paid on time. We have no school age children, so they weren’t likely to be Social Workers, and if they were the Police, well, I haven’t done anything wrong. Likewise, we’re good with immigration, and our local politico’s know we haven’t got the vote here yet. Further observation demonstrated they were visiting each household in turn. Which leaves, by deductive reasoning, the only other possible conclusion – Religious nutters.

I sighed heavily. I’d missed my morning amusement. If I am sinful, I think my major sin is that I delight in mockery of proselytising pillocks who seem to think I have nothing better to do than listen to their irrational witterings when I should be working. Their activities have always struck me as eccentric because, if you think about it, God does not really need religions. Religions on the other hand, desperately need God, even if none of them are sure where to look. Even if they knew what they were looking for. Or wouldn’t burn / impale / blow up what they were looking for when they found it.

Bearing the aforementioned in mind; it is my contention that one does not need religion to be moral or of good character, as recent revelations about the shirtlifting habits of one specific religious priesthood have proven. Religions are all politico-tribal entities who reflect the moral dimension of whatever community gives the idle sods a living. Support a religion whose priests have been known to molest or even kidnap children? Advocate the murder those who think differently? Quod erat demonstrandum. This is not restricted to one sect of God botherers, many indulge in these moral lapses. No idea why, I suppose the religious lifestyle just seems attractive to those whose secret tastes run that way. Perhaps they simply get off on the power trip of having a Deity covering their eternal arses. Quite frankly, if I was God, I think I’d task my PR people with a few well aimed thunderbolts at these sects, but that’s just me.

Any old road up. As I watched the pair walk down the road to knock on our neighbours door, I reflected sadly that I’d missed the opportunity to try out a rather amusing wheeze. For me, not for them. Did I say I was evil? Good. Just checking.

Conversations with these people tend to follow a script as predictable and tedious as a cold call telemarketer. The conversation normally runs something like this;
God Botherer; “Good morning sir / madam Would you like to talk about God”
Householder; “No.”
GB (Trying to engage); “Nice house sir.”
HH (Suspiciously); “Are you with the Mafia?”
GB (Puzzled); “Er, no.”
HH (Annoyed); “Eff off, timewaster.” (FX: Door slam)

I have several versions of this conversation, which may leave the Householder feeling that the unwilling trudge to see who is invading their personal time has not proven a wasted journey.
Version 1:
God Botherer; “Good morning sir / madam Would you like to talk about God?”
Householder (Pretending to be shocked); “Oh no. What’s he been up to now? You aren’t Social Workers / Police are you? Has he been messing about with the firmament again? I’ve told him / her not to, but he / she’s got such a lively mind.”
GB; “Er…”(FX: Door close)

Version 2:
God Botherer; “Good morning sir / madam Would you like to talk about God?”
Householder; “He’s out at the moment, fishing. Do you want to leave a message?”
GB; “Would you like to read about him, sir / madam?”
HH; “No, no, he / she will probably tell me all about it when he/ she gets home. If you lot were in properly in touch like you claim I’m sure he / she’d have let you know.”
GB; “Err….” (FX: Door close)

Version 3:
God Botherer; “Good morning sir / madam Would you like to talk about God”
Householder; “Why?”
GB; “Because..(Insert blather about end of world, repenting of sinners and all the other BS they like to chuck around)”
HH; “Nice day for it. So you reckon it’s all going to end at that time?”
GB (Enthused); “Yes sir.”
HH; “Well we had the (Insert competing sect name here) around earlier, and they say you’ve got the dates wrong, again.” The pause indicated by the comma is crucial, don’t forget it. “They told me they thought you lot are all going to Hell if you don’t convert, which I personally thought was a bit steep. They were quite vehement about it. I think I heard them say something about burning Heretics next week. Anyway. Must dash. Can’t take up any more of your valuable time. Byee.” (FX: Door close and lock)

There are many variants on this theme, and I’m sure my reader can come up with many more. Yes, yes, we’ll probably all burn at the stake (Make mine medium done with a little charring – Dijon mustard) for our disbelief in the ludicrous, but what one has to remember is that once ion their power, these unhinged zealots will forever keep tightening their ‘rules’ until they start burning innocents anyway. Believe in what we tell you to or be punished. It’s how they retain their grip on the gullible and easily frightened.

Expatriate expostulations from Canada

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